International Journal of Primatology

, Volume 31, Issue 5, pp 863–886 | Cite as

Exploring New Areas: How Important is Long-Term Spatial Memory for Mangabey (Lophocebus albigena johnstonii) Foraging Efficiency?

  • Karline R. L. JanmaatEmail author
  • Rebecca L. Chancellor


Studies of primate foraging efficiency during the exploration of new areas can provide important insights into the adaptive value of long-term spatial memory. After 6 yr of observation of a group of gray-cheeked mangabeys (Lophocebus albigena johnstonii) in Kibale National Park, Uganda, we observed exploration of a new area, followed 7 mo later by a group split. We recorded their ranging and foraging behavior for 22 mo after the first exploration. Controlling for weather variables, we found that mangabeys moved longer daily travel distances, explored more area per day, and had larger group spreads in the new area compared to the old area in both parent and daughter groups. The increase in search swath in the new area likely enabled the monkeys to counteract their lack of knowledge of food locations in the new area, as the efficiency in finding fruit in general did not differ between the old and new areas. We did, however, find a lower efficiency in finding fruit from preferred fig trees whose edibility could not be assessed by visual cues in the new area. Fig finding efficiency remained lower, even when we controlled for potential differences in fig density. In addition, mangabeys traveled and foraged less often on the ground in the new compared to the old area. However, when the monkeys became more familiar with the new area, terrestrial behavior increased. Our results are consistent with the hypothesis that when monkeys move into an area in which they have no experience, an absence of knowledge acquired via long-term spatial memory decreases their foraging efficiency.


Explorative ranging Foraging efficiency Gray-cheeked mangabey Long-term spatial memory 



The Wenner-Gren and Leakey Foundation, the University of St. Andrews’ School of Psychology, the Schure-Bijerinck-Popping Foundation of the KNAW, the Stichting Kronendak, the Dobberke Stichting voor Vergelijkende Psychology, the Lucie Burger Stichting, and the Foundation Doctor Catharine van Tussenbroek provided funding to K. R. L. Janmaat. The Leakey Foundation and the University of California, Davis Department of Anthropology provided funding to R. L. Chancellor. We thank the Office of the President, the Uganda National Council for Science and Technology, the Uganda Wildlife Authority, the Makerere University Biological Field Station, and the Kibale Fish and Monkey Project, C. A. Chapman in particular, for logistic support, permission to conduct research in Kibale National Park, and the rainfall and temperature data needed to conduct our analyses. We thank W. Olupot and G. Arlet for sending us their ranging data and for training our assistants. We thank R. Meijer, L. B. Prevot, D. C. M. Wright, J. Rusoke, P. Irumba, R. Kaserengenyu, S. Katusabe, and R. Sabiiti for invaluable assistance in the field. We thank L. A. Isbell, K. Zuberbühler, C. H. Janson, G. Brown, 3 anonymous reviewers, and P. M. Waser in particular for comments and suggestions that significantly improved earlier drafts of the manuscript.

Supplementary material

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Copyright information

© Springer Science+Business Media, LLC 2010

Authors and Affiliations

  • Karline R. L. Janmaat
    • 1
    Email author
  • Rebecca L. Chancellor
    • 2
    • 3
  1. 1.Department of PrimatologyMax Planck Institute for Evolutionary AnthropologyLeipzigGermany
  2. 2.Department of AnthropologyUniversity of CaliforniaDavisUSA
  3. 3.Gishwati Area Conservation ProgramGreat Ape Trust of IowaDes MoinesUSA

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